5S Process Improvement – What is it?

5S Process Improvement program implementation that lean principles are the business practice that identifies analyzes, and improves existing business processes in order to maximize performance, meet best practices standards, or simply improve the customer experience and quality for end-users and customers.

There are many names for 5s process improvement, including business process management (BPM), continuous improvement process (CIP), business processes re-engineering (BPI), continual improvement process [CIP], and business process improvement (BPI), just to name a few. They all have the same goal, regardless of their nomenclature: to reduce errors, and waste, increase productivity, and streamline efficiency.

Introduction to 5S

Many organizations adjust their resources in order to keep up with the changing economic environment. This can often lead to more work being done with fewer resources. Businesses must be more efficient and reduce waste to stay competitive. It is essential that we find ways to do the same thing in less time and at lower costs. The 5S Principles are one way to achieve this. The 5S Principles can be used to identify and eliminate waste while increasing efficiency. You can find a lot of information on 5S and its history. Popular belief holds that implementing the 5S Methodology in the workplace was invented by the Japanese. The letter “S” stands to signify five Japanese words. These Japanese words are translated into the roman script and begin with the letter “S”. Henry Ford actually used the 5S principles decades ago. According to some reports, Ford used CANDO in his manufacturing process prior to 1920. CANDO stands to Clean up, Arrange, Neatness and Discipline, and Ongoing Improvement. Representatives from Toyota visited Ford’s facilities in the 1950s to learn about mass production techniques for automobiles. Later, the Japanese adapted the CANDO techniques and used them in their own production plants. The steps of 5S can be described using the following words: Sort, Set Shine, Standardize, Sustain and Shine. Different words can have different meanings in different companies. Whatever words are used to identify steps in 5S, their purpose is the same: Create a clean, organized, and efficient work environment.

What is 5S?

The 5S Method, a standard process improvement, creates and maintains an efficient, safe, clean, and organized workplace. As part of 5S, visual controls are improved to make non-conformances easily visible and detectable. The 5S initiative is often one component of larger Lean initiatives and encourages continuous improvement. Here’s the 5S list:

  • Seiri/Sort: Separating the essential items from the non-essential
  • Straighten / Seiton: Organising essential materials so that everything is in its right place
  • Clean the work area with Seiso/Shine
  • Seiketsu/Standardize: Establishing a system for maintaining and making 5S a habit
  • Shitsuke/Sustain: Establishing safe and sanitary work environments (Safety).

Many industries recognize the 5S Lean Principles as an effective tool for improving workplace organization, decreasing waste, and increasing efficiency. The 5S Lean Principles should not be viewed as the entirety of a company’s improvement efforts. It could be viewed as the final goal of your company’s improvement efforts, rather than a key component of a larger continuous improvement program. When 5S is integrated into a larger initiative, and the whole organization adopts its principles, you will reap the greatest benefits. 5S is not a system. It is a business philosophy that should be integrated into an organization’s culture.

Why implement 5S process improvement

Implementing the 5S Methods in a production area or business office has many benefits. Cost control is essential for businesses to survive and thrive today. Waste must also be minimized or eliminated. If the 5S steps are implemented correctly, they can help identify and reduce waste in any process. A well-organized work area will reduce excessive motion and time spent looking for the right tool. The 5S Methodology’s visual aspect is also extremely effective. It is much easier to find something missing or misplaced if everything has its place. Clean work areas help to draw attention to potential safety hazards or problems. Clean floors can help spot potential problems or prevent falls. A positive culture change can be achieved by encouraging employees to identify and fix problems. The 5S Lean Principles can be used as part of a Lean initiative, or as a standalone tool to reduce waste, improve quality and promote safety, and help drive continuous improvement.

How to Implement 5S Process Improvement

What are the 5S Housekeeping Principles?
What are the 5S Housekeeping Principles?


Sorting is the first step of 5S. The team should sort through all items within the area, including bulk storage parts and tools. Each item should be reviewed and evaluated by the 5S leader. This will allow you to determine which items are necessary for the job to be done efficiently and effectively. It is important to tag and catalog the items that are essential for daily operations. You can also determine the frequency with which the item is used for the work. If the item is large, determine the appropriate amount to keep in the area. Then move any remaining items to storage. Overstock is one type of waste that should be eliminated in the 5S activities.


All items left in your work area should be moved to a designated place. Place all items in the designated place. A common saying is “A place to put everything and everything in its proper place”. Look for ways to reduce waste or eliminate it during the straightening step. Unnecessary operator movement or motion is one form of waste. It is important to keep frequently used supplies and tools in the area of the operator’s immediate work zone. Shadow boards are a great way to save time and avoid searching for the right tool. You should store items that aren’t used as often based on how frequently they are used. Label all parts bins. Labels should contain the part number, description, storage location, and recommended minimum and maximum quantities. An operator can quickly check and confirm that everything is in order by having a neat work area.


Next, clean the area thoroughly and take out all trash. We must ensure that the area and all equipment are clean in order to be efficient. Equipment failure can lead to increased process variability. Equipment failure can lead to lost time, which is non-value-added and waste. Safety issues can also be caused by a dirty area, which could lead to injury to workers. Clean up after each shift. Operators will be able to spot any unusual conditions such as oil or grease leaks, wear on lift cables, burned-out bulbs, and dirty sensors. This is done to reduce waste and increase operator safety and efficiency.


The 4th step is considered the most crucial in the 5S Process. This step is where we will develop the standards for 5S. These standards will be used to measure and maintain the 5S previous steps. This step is where work instructions, checklists, and standard work are created. Operators will eventually do things their way, rather than following the instructions of others. This phase is where visual management can be very useful. Sometimes, color coding is used and the standard colors are used for the surrounding area. For easier identification of non-conformances, photos of the area in the standard 5S configuration are frequently posted. Operators are trained to spot non-conforming conditions immediately and fix them. It is also important to create a schedule for the regular maintenance of each area.


Sometimes, this step of the 5S Process is the most difficult. Sustaining refers to the continuation of the Sort Straighten Shine, Shine, and Standardize steps. This step is the most crucial because it addresses the requirement to perform 5S consistently and systematically. This step usually involves the creation and implementation of a standard auditing system. The sustain step aims to infuse the 5S process into the company culture. To ensure that the exercise continues to be beneficial, the company must make 5S a daily part of their lives. 5S isn’t a one-off exercise. The 5S 5s program implementation process should be a daily habit.

What is 5s process improvement program implementation?
What is 5s program implementation?

These are the 8 types of waste:

5S program implementation lean principles, as stated previously, are effective tools to reduce waste, improve quality, increase efficiency, promote safety, and encourage continuous improvement. You should be aware of the many forms that waste can take when you use 5S Methods.

  • Overproduction is the production of more products than necessary or parts that are produced faster than downstream processes can use it. Try to produce the right amount of product at the right time.
  • Overproduction can lead to excess inventory or poor purchasing habits. Sometimes, overbuying supplies is a sign that we are getting a great deal. Stockpiles that are too large or not needed can lead to other types of waste.
  • Inappropriate or non-value-added processing – This is when waste is created by using the wrong tool, unnecessary operations, or not using the best tools and processes for the job. Avoid the expression “Because it’s what we do every day.” You can reduce waste with the right process and the right tools
  • Waiting – When you wait for parts, supplies, or information to arrive, time and resources are wasted.
  • Transportation – Wasteful or excessive movement of material or travel is called transportation. Planning and process layout are key to reducing or eliminating excess transportation. Value stream mapping is a tool that allows the team to visualize how much material is being transported.
  • Unnecessary motion – Any operator’s movement that doesn’t add value is considered waste. Examine the actions required to complete the task during your 5S exercise. Make sure all supplies and tools are accessible and easily found at your workstation. Sometimes, it is possible to resequence certain steps in order to reduce unnecessary movement. You can also reduce or eliminate excess motion by creating an ergonomic workstation. Safety is always the first priority.
  • Defects – This type of waste is the most dangerous. Non-conforming parts and assemblies increase scrap production, reduce process efficiency, waste machine, process, or assembly time, and cause non-value-added tool wear. Additional waste can be created by defects, such as waiting times for parts that are no longer available to downstream operations.
  • Potential Untapped Employee Creativity – Many companies now realize that their greatest asset is their employees. Companies need to foster an environment where people are open to new ideas. The most successful companies have created an environment where employees’ ideas are heard and valued. Employees are rewarded and recognized for their great ideas. It is impossible to predict where the next great idea will come from.

You should be aware of the different types of waste when you implement your 5S program implementation. You can eliminate waste from your processes by taking action. Encourage your team members to get involved and offer suggestions for improvement. Teams that work together to address, eliminate, and fix waste in their workplaces will be more likely to take responsibility for the results. They will be more likely to identify any future non-conformances. Slowly, the 5S program implementation of Lean Principles will become routine. You will then foster a culture that is constantly improving.

Do you have any success stories from implementing 5s Process Improvement?

Leave them in the comments below.